Wednesday, October 17, 2018

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This month is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. Most people think of domestic violence as physical abuse. But there is another form of violence against women that is equally harmful, yet invisible. Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence. Financial abuse is controlling, demoralizing and chips away at a woman's self esteem. Financial abuse causes fear, and anxiety, depression, and emotional trauma.

 A few examples of financial abuse are:

  • Not including you in financial decisions. 
  • Not telling you about bonuses or financial gain. 
  • Not providing a joint bank account. 
  • Not giving you access to finances, ie. not putting you on his bank account, making you have to ask for money. 
  • Taking money that belongs to you without your permission. 
Most victims of financial abuse suffer in silence, learn the warning signs and offer support. If she reaches out to you, here's how to talk to someone who is being financially abused:

  • Let her know this is a judgment-free conversation and she is not alone. 
  • Offer your support. 
  • Listen 
  • "I know this is difficult to discuss, but please know you can talk to me about anything." 
  • "You are not alone. I care about you, and I'm here for you, no matter what." 
  • "You are not responsible for what's going on." 
  • "No matter what you did, you do not deserve this." 
  • Do not hijack the conversation to talk yourself. 
  • If you've experienced abuse in a past relationship now is not the time to compare and contrast your experience with hers, ie. "my ex took my entire savings" or "my pushed me off the steps". This isn't about who had it worse, it's about supporting a victim who reached out to you. 

For more information about Financial Abuse, where to seek help or to help some one you know, click on the photo above. You are not alone


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posted by Wendy at 6:56 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Dear 55 year old me,

Happy re-birthday. You've been through a lot of crap in your lifetime, but you have always made it to the other side intact, and stronger for it. Not to bypass the suffering in any way, you didn't deserve any of that. You won't hear me say "there's a reason for everything" or it's part of God's plan". I know that you won't bow to any God who harms. Maybe we should rethink the adage "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" because scar tissue is dead tissue and that's the reality even though the divine body has ways of compensating for injury. Bless the scars! Bless not the scar-makers, for they can go suck it! 

I admire your way of looking at the big picture and trying to find the right path forward, without insulting your soul in the process. I admire your humanness, your raw honesty, and your strong boundaries, your creativity, your determination and your kindness.  You navigate challenges by feeling all the feels in that moment so you can step over them and keep moving, rather than swallowing and silencing and carrying their weight. You have keen intuition, because you have learned the language of your body, the voice without words and you allow this to guide you. 

You have learned that there are tricksters, some quite obvious, and others who somehow evade your radar. It's not because you invite them - no - or because you are naive - no - it's because masks make it difficult to read faces. But masks do slip eventually, and then you see clearly the shadow behind it. Remember this, in those rare and shocking encounters, these shadow beings have never been able to steal your muchness, your passion, your creativity, your sense of wonder, your truth, your love of nature, and your pursuit of beauty. At most, these shadow beings have left behind a wall of scar tissue on the area of trust. But don't forget there are nanotubes, between scar tissue and healthy heart cells, which electrically unite. The scar wall will protect you, and the nanotubes will connect you to truth.

Use your tools skillfully, calling into circle the trustworthy souls that care about you and the safety and the truth telling and the insight. When in doubt consult. You are wiser than you know, it's just that you are unable to see where this odd, unfamiliar and unconventional path is taking you. It's not a clear or easy path. There has been, there is, and there will still be obstacles. You will navigate them, as you have always done. Assess the terrain. Look for the markers. Trust the knowing.

Don't lose yourself on this, the maker of all manner of things, you are the mama bear that gathers and shares, you of the mountains and the Manahatta, you healer of foxes and sniffer of flowers, you holder of stunned birds, you advocate of spiders and speaker for trees. 

Go ahead - Open your mouth and let the bees fly out, most bees are female, they only sting when threatened. Remember to eat the cake and howl at the moon with your pack who loves you. On this, your 55th ride around the sun, may you hug all the years you've lived and love all the hers who've come before and especially the her riding this twirling chunk of space rock right now. She deserves it.  

To thine own self be true,

Rough draft: "I Open My Mouth and Let the Bees Fly Out" W.Cook ©2018


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posted by Wendy at 8:11 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Thirteen Rides Around the Sun

Dear Satchel,

Happy 13th ride around the sun!  You are now officially a teenager!

This birthday is a very special one as it marks the path from childhood to adulthood.  We call this stepping stone the coming of age because it's the transitional period when boys become young men.

Over the course of the year, we gave you some challenges to complete, a rites of passage before your 13th birthday and you have completed them all:

We challenged you to get certified in CPR and First Aid because this is not only a valuable skill to have, but it was something outside your comfort zone, and yet so aligned with your caring nature.  You took a course through the Red Cross and you learned CPR, how to use a defibrillator, and the Heimlich.  You passed the test and became certified. That's quite an accomplishment!

Another challenge was to learn how to do your laundry, and you tackled that challenge with ease.  And since then you have taken on the task of folding your own laundry and putting it away.  This is a huge help and demonstrates maturity and responsibility.

We challenged you to cook a meal for a friend, and you not only have met that challenge, but you have impressed your friends with your quesadillas.

We challenged you to learn about your protest rights and you took the ACLU class on student rights.  You then attended your first school walk-out against gun violence.  Its important to know what your rights are so that you can make informed choices and stand up for what you believe in, and be the change you wish to see in the world.

We challenged you to learn about conscientious objection and you attended a talk by attorney J.E. McNeil, the former executive director of the Center on Conscience and war.

We challenged you to go to your first march / rally and you attended the March for Our Lives Rally in Washington DC.  This was your first major protest, and you were nervous about it, but you did it!

And there were other acts of kindness and courage that you did all on your own which show us that you are becoming a kind, compassionate, generous and courageous young man:

When a boy on the bus dropped and broke his pottery, you offered to fix it for him.  You carried it home and went straight to work gluing the pieces back together, then returned a perfectly mended pottery to the boy in the morning.  That was so incredibly kind, Satchel, and is an example of the wonderful young man you are becoming.

Another example of your thoughtfulness and generosity is the day you told me that a boy in your grade has no money for lunch and doesn't bring any food so you've been buying him lunch every day.  This made us extremely proud.  It's the kind thing to do, and you've been doing it.

More recently, when I was preparing a dish for my friend's moving party, you decided that you wanted to contribute and you made a dessert for the party all by yourself.  It meant so much to me that you wanted to participate and it made the bbq all the more special.

You consistently demonstrate courage by standing up for yourself, and for others, and for speaking out against things that you know are harmful, even at the risk of being teased, or picked on.  This is an admirable quality and one we should all aspire to.

You still have a great sense of humor, and you made me laugh so hard at the allergist office one day that I thought they might ask me to leave.  You've discovered that you enjoy composing digital music and you are very good at it.  Your lego creations are very impressive and I marvel at all the things you can make from slime, to mini crossbows...I think you can make anything.

I feel so blessed to be your mama.  The day you were born was the best day of my life.

On this 13th anniversary of your birth, may you recognize all that you have accomplished, may you notice all the talents you possess,  and may you know that you are deeply loved.  I celebrate you!

 (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

Happy 13th ride around the sun, Satchel.
Thank you for being my son.

All my love,

(Posted at the time of your birth)

*To celebrate with friends, you chose a trampoline park and obstacle course!  An excellent choice as everyone had to find their balance, challenge themselves, learn to take a fall, and trust themselves, but most of all HAVE FUN!  Afterwards, we went to an Italian restaurant for pizza and ice-cream cake.  

As our gift to you, we will heading to NY on the last day of school to sleep with wolves at the Wolf Conservation Center.  Aroooooooo!


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posted by Wendy at 12:50 PM 0 comments

Monday, January 15, 2018

End of Winter Break Wherein All Hell Breaks Loose

On January 2nd they went back to school with a setting wolf moon.  Then we had a number of cancellations and delays due to frigid temps, icy roads and not enough snow to sled upon.  The man cub  had a sleepover and the following day he landed in the ER from an unexpected asthma flair.   We hunkered down and photograph the visitors in our well stocked feeders.  The flowers from our solstice party bloomed, and over the course of these cold, wintry weeks,  I baked a peach tart, chocolate banana tea loaves and a Palermo Pizza.  And, as is our tradition when we are lacking sled worthy snow, we took a day trip to a ski lodge to go tubing.

Full wolf moon setting at the bus stop

Robin Goodfellow

Eastern Bluebird

The finches

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Titmouse, Finch & Junco

Sassy Wren

Nuthatch and Dove

Ms. Cardinal

Mister Cardinal

Dark and decadent chocolate banana tea loaves: I had a tropical nightmare of overripe bananas that I didn’t want to waste so I made this treat from one of my favorite bakeries in NYC named Once Upon a Tart. I remember walking down the street one summer day and seeing a man burning decades of paint off the old and beautifully carved woodwork that donned the storefront door and window. I sat myself down on the sidewalk and watched while chatting him up. He told me they were restoring the shop for their new bakery. I came back the next day and watched him remove paint from the metal ceiling tiles. The thought of a tiny bakery on my block made me swoon and it quickly became my haunt. Many years later, when I moved to VA, I discovered they published a cookbook and in it, the recipe.

* Sfincione sans anchovies: When I lived in NYC, my most favorite pizza joint was Ben’s in SoHo. It was the only place I knew that made the Palermo pie aka Sfincione. Traditionally served on New Year’s Eve, it’s topped with tomato sauce, caramelized onions, sheep’s milk cheese and breadcrumbs. Here in VA it was a challenge to find good pizza in general, let alone Sicilian, and there is NOT a single sfincione to be had anywhere. I nearly forgot about it until my friend Marybeth posted a photo of one that she made and the memories of the bliss filled bite came flooding back in vivid detail. I hit the interwebs and searched for a recipe, determined to make that slice of heaven. And I did. And now I’m eating a left over slice for breakfast before we head to the mountains to go snow tubing with friends.

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posted by Wendy at 10:37 AM 0 comments

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy New Year & Wild Reciprocity for 2018

Farewell 2017!!!

Happy Hogmanay, Silvester and New Year!

What a beast 2017 was! Of course we tried to make as many beautiful memories as we could and in those moments it helped lift our hearts above the state of the nation and the unmasked bigotry.

I made a list (in random order) to remind myself of the many beautiful things that happened in spite of the darkness:

1. We hiked the falls on the first day of 2017 with our dear friends the Mann family.

2. I went to the Women's March in DC with a new friend.

3. I took Social Justice Training to help be a better ally and advocate.

4. We took a road trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and were completely ensorcelled.

5. The man rode his first upside down rollercoaster, and my beloved niece came to join us at the park.

6. We visited Animal Kingdom with our dear friends the Smith family.

7. We went to two owl releases at sundown. 8. I made a lovely new friend and walking partner.

9. I graduated the Master Naturalists program.

10. I took a basic wildlife rehabilitation course.

11. We climbed Stony Man Summit several times.

12. We spent Easter on the Chesapeake looking for fossilized shark teeth.

13. I made my own almond milk.

14. We drove to SC to watch the solar eclipse and flew a giant octopus kite on the beach.

15. The Bolasci tribe came for visit and sleepover

16. We learned real life potions with dear friend, Erin Fairlight.

17. We went to a fabulous DakhaBrakha concert.

 18. We had many sunset picnics at the lake.

19. We went apple picking with our friends the Heinold family and picnicked in the orchard.

20. We had several celebratory bonfires with friends and neighbors.

21. We had our 10th annual winter solstice party and lantern walk with beloved friends.

 22. We flew a kite at sunset on a mountain top.

23. We watched the super moon rise from a hill in the middle of a golf course.

24. I finally got around to making shibori cloth napkins.

25. The man cub was certified in CPR and First Aid.

26. We took a road trip to Lewis Ginter Bontanical Garden, saw breathtaking butterflies and climbed a 100 yo Mulberry tree

27. My niece came to visit and we went to the Abstract Landscapes exhibit in DC and Stonyman Summit.

28. We grew some food.

29. I facilitated another two seasons of Mighty Girl Art and presented at Maker Faire.

30. I held space for a girl who transitioning to an angel.

31. We expanded our hummingbird feeders and with it our feathered guests.

32. We toured the historic Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary and it was magical.

33. We visited 30 acres of sunflowers at McKee-Beshers.

34. We spent a day wandering Harpers Ferry with our friends, the Mann family.

35. We took a day trip to visit the set of my favorite childhood tv show Hodgepodge Lodge

36. We had a visit from a Clymeme Moth and a Leopard Moth.

37. I went to my first interfaith Iftar.

38. We had two seasonal block parties.

39. The man cub won another fishing derby

41. We went to the Owl Moon Raptor Festival.

42. My dear friends Melissa performed fire poy at our pink moon bonfire and mystified the littles.

43. I spent time with the magical Erin Darcy and Ophelia at the airport during their layover to Ireland.

44. I finally learned to knit a cat bed, but none of our cats will use it so I donated it the cat clinic.

45. I fell in love with the works of some new to me writers.

46. The man cub made his first stop motion film.

47. I finally learned how to play Backgammon.

48. I spent time with a dear lifelong friend Debi at her bayside cottage and watched the sunset from her treehouse. She lifted my heart from the sadness of my visit which was the memorial service for a friend and mentor. And there I also visited my longtime friend Di, shared dinner, hugs and laughter.

49. I created and printed 2 years worth of photos into 2 hardback memory books.

50. We spent an evening at a local water park with our dear friends the Mann family.

51. The man cub decided that he now enjoys sleepovers and has had many to make up for lost time.

On New Years Day, we took advantage of a noteworthy cold snap to make ice lanterns.  Instead of the traditional Hoppin' John, I decided to lean toward my Italian roots and make Pasta Fagioli which I like to think of as the Italian version of Hoppin' John.  I think this shall remain my New Years tradition from now on.

Lastly, here is a poem that I wish to carry forth in to the new year...

Wild Compliance by Ben Weaver

I’ve got maps spread out
all over the kitchen floor
headwaters splintering into deltas
whose braids are hollowing
my spirit of its untruths
the snow blowing down my collar
the rain leaking in through my boots
the river depositing silt into my hair
whittled down to sap
I’m letting the light in
however it wants to get in

Out in the darkness of the frozen lake
there are fish suspended
in the top six inches of ice
who will hold the dreams
of last summer’s water
through the winter,
and then pass them along
in the spring when the ice melts
and water again begins to flow

The part of me that is Watercress
Wolverine, Lark Sparrow and Bluestem
has been waking
in the middle of the night
near the fork of a creek
at the foot of a hill
and cannot return to sleep without asking,
how far away are we
and what must we do
to collectively imagine
a liberated future;
where the way we live
does not compromise life
where watersheds are not choked
where human beings
are not wage slaves
and our value system
is based in generosity
not accumulation?

These questions howl through me
like rivers and runaway witches
my life the voice to ask them with
my heart the tool shaping
the resilience and renewal they reveal

As the tamarack bogs never refuse a Moose
my resistance is an act of love
and my questions come not in judgment
but in service of life, as an invitation
to hear all that is silent in the river
all that clings with the burrs and sunset
to the Coyote’s tail
that does not require one to
comply with an economy
willing to sacrifice the braids of our ecosystem
Red Fox, Monarch, Hawk,
White Bark Pine, Salmon,
Bears Ears, Lake Superior,
Kawishiwi, Menomonee, or Yellow Dog
for a deluded version of wealth
that enriches supremacy,
fear, complacency, and disconnect,
but instead complies with
the entangled lives of
Box Turtles and thunderstorms
ancient forests and the joy of
Earths’ wild reciprocity.

And I must remember this

“...throw roses into the abyss and say: 'here is my thanks to the monster who didn't succeed in swallowing me alive.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

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posted by Wendy at 10:06 AM 0 comments

Sunday, December 31, 2017

December: Wintering

“You are the root of heaven, the morning star, the bright moon, the house of endless Love.” - Rumi.

We get a dusting of snow to set the mood.  Our solstice party was joyous and we took the children on a lantern walk in the forest.  It's time for flannel sheets, and comfort foods.  A mysterious envelope arrives from faraway lands.  Santa arrives, and I'm awakened before dawn by the man cub holding a stocking full of treats.  "I'm shaking with excitement", he exclaims.  I open beautiful gifts left under the tree for me by friends.  Deep gratitude infuses the season.  We begin winter break with the new Star Wars movie.  Our home is a bustle with friends at play.  We brave the cold to watch the supermoon rise above the treetops.  The close of the year was peaceful and joyous.

Solstice lantern walk

A friend's post that started a chain of #metoo

Pre-dawn Christmas mawn

A hand painted plater from the Bayuk family.

Winter break cinema : Star Wars

more lovely gifts from lovely friends...



Super Moon Dec 2017

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posted by Wendy at 9:48 AM 0 comments

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